A vibrant new plan to rejuvenate East Kilbride has been unveiled. A plan for the centre, which includes proposals to demolish part of Centre West, Olympia.
The masterplan for East Kilbride town centre envisages radical changes to respond to the rapid decline of in-person shopping that has blighted town centres across the country. Instead, a new heart would be created for the town with a mix of urban living and civic areas.
The proposals, which local residents and communities are being consulted on, include:
- A reduction of 42% in retail floorspace
- Up to 400 new homes in a new town centre neighbourhood
- A new Civic Hub
- A food supermarket as an anchor retailer
- Transforming tired entrance points, including a new hotel
The vision is the result of a unique partnership across the private and public sectors, including the town centre’s asset managers and administrators, property experts, leading architects and South Lanarkshire Council.
Mark Hewett, Director at Scoop Asset Management, said: “The EK masterplan has been created in response to the unprecedented economic challenges facing not only East Kilbride but town and city centres across the country.
“We are confident that this visionary mixed-use development, which will see a transformation of EK town centre, will pave the way for future investment in the town over the coming years.”
Four key parts of the shopping centre have been identified for significant change, including the demolition of the Centre West area to create space for the new neighbourhood, which would feature a mix of private and affordable housing, from flats for first time buyers and downsizers to larger homes for families.
Anthony Hubbert, of Threesixty architects, said that following the original mixed use vision for East Kilbride town centre in 1947, retail had increasingly come to dominate until changing shopping habits, primarily the rise of online shopping together with financial pressures, had led to the decline of in-person shopping.
He said: “Delivering a high-quality urban environment is key. We need to transform the shopping centre from an island in the middle of East Kilbride into the heart of the town by creating a permeable, safe and accessible environment.”
The new Civic Hub would boast a flagship building that could have a range of uses across the public sector, the arts and education – and a civic square that will create a new meeting place and access point to the town centre.
Active negotiations are also underway regarding the new supermarket, to take over a new space at the current Olympia Mall entrance, and the hotel, which would be part of a redevelopment to replace the ageing entrance area near the bus station at Princes Mall.
The masterplan will generate employment through short-term construction jobs and longer-term regeneration through town centre employment in retail and leisure, business rates, as well as more local spend as people return to shop and take part in other activities in East Kilbride.
David Booth, Executive Director of Community and Enterprise, said South Lanarkshire Council was involved in a number of roles – as owner and occupier of parts of the town centre and as the planning and roads authority.
He added: “We are also the effective custodians of the town centre and we want a successful East Kilbride as part of a successful South Lanarkshire. Without strategic intervention the town centre will continue to decline and fall further behind its neighbours. We therefore need to show ambition in order to realise the town’s potential.”
Alistair McAlinden, head of Interpath Advisory in Scotland and joint administrator of shopping centre owners Sapphire, said: “We welcome the publication of this masterplan, which outlines a bold and exciting vision for the future of the centre of East Kilbride. We look forward to working closely with all key stakeholders over the months ahead.”
The masterplan has a number of green aspirations, including making cars less dominant and delivering more space and access points for pedestrians, plus public transport connections. Construction would adhere to decarbonisation principles and would seek to reuse and recycle materials wherever possible.
An initial phase of public and stakeholder consultation begins Monday, 11 September with drop-ins available at a dedicated shop in East Kilbride Town Centre as well as a project website that will be launched on 18 September.